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Indian Shrimp Industry Fights Back Against Allegations, Seeks Government Support

Indian shrimp exporters are facing accusations from a foreign lobby that their products are contaminated and produced using forced labor. This lobby is targeting the lucrative US market, where India has a 40% market share.

The accusations stem from allegations by a former employee of a Kerala-based shrimp processing company, Choice Canning. The employee, a US citizen named Joshua Farinella, claimed the company was exporting shrimp with antibiotics and engaging in forced labor. These claims were amplified by activists and some US media outlets.

Indian shrimp exporters vehemently deny these allegations. They have requested the government’s help in launching a global campaign to counter this negative publicity, which threatens to disrupt ₹43,000 crore of shrimp exports.

In response, the Indian government convened a meeting with stakeholders from the commerce and external affairs ministries, regulatory bodies, and exporters. The exporters expressed confidence in meeting US safety standards and offered to open their facilities for inspection by independent international agencies.

Government officials are confident that existing regulatory bodies like the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are sufficient to ensure compliance. However, they have asked these agencies to be extra vigilant.

India banned the use of antibiotics in aquaculture in 2002. To further address concerns, the government is encouraging exporters to focus on value addition through processing and branding before exporting to the US, a move that is believed to have rattled competitors.

The Indian shrimp industry is not taking these accusations lightly. They point to a similar campaign that disrupted Thai seafood exports a decade ago. They are determined to protect their reputation and market share in the US, the world’s biggest shrimp buyer.

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